To be fair, I read up until 50% of this book, skimmed for a while, and then skipped ahead to the 95% mark where I finished the book. So I wasn’t entirely sure whether to classify this book as a “DNF” read or as a full-fledged read. But in the end, because I knew what happened at the very end in terms of the resolution, I was overly indulgent and told myself I had completed this novel. The reason I was so hesitant to endure the other half was because of how much I really hated the characters. Only Everything is told in three different people’s perspectives: the exiled goddess Eros who goes by the name True on Earth, the dad-less student Katrina struggling with her identity, and the new kid Charlie who’s infatuated with Katrina. It’s an interesting cast by far, but what I really hated about them were that they weren’t compelling characters. In terms of the story itself, it was decent, although the attitudes of our main characters really pissed me off.
First of all, True, alias Cupid, was so stupid that I wanted to take her neck and squeeze. She would come to school wearing stuff like a dress layered over jeans, sneakers, and a baseball cap, it wasn’t just secondhand embarrassment, it was idiotic. If you made frequent visits to Earth, then you should be familiar with the fashion choices there. Even if you do meet up with your boyfriend or girlfriend secretly in a secluded forest, you should still have an idea of what you’re up against before you go to a foreign place. Not to mention, True was teaching Orion about Earth before they were separated and she got exiled to Earth. So the fact that she tries to make herself as conspicuous as possible at high school is ridiculous. High school’s ruthless—you’re going to get noticed for what fashion chooses you make, especially when they’re as out of date as hers were.
Furthermore, True needed to stop whining and being obnoxious. Every other chapter, she was saying something about how much she wanted her powers back. Like, no. You’re exiled for a reason, and if you can’t get along okay without your powers, then we have a problem here.
This could not be my reflection. The hair in tangles, the gray swipes of color under the eyes, the red nose with its skin peeling along its bridge. I leaned forward, horrified. Was that a pimple on my chin?
“No!” I cried, the tears flowing freely now. “This was not a part of our deal! No one said I was going to deteriorate!”
Then she goes on a tangent on how beautiful she was as a goddess, and how her being ugly would’ve made Orion run for the hills, because obviously true love is based off of how pretty you are. Nothing annoys me more in mythology than when characters are depicted as literally perfect just because they’re gods and goddesses. Obviously not, because Hera was a jealous bitch, and Hades was a psychotic bastard. True needed to stop with the “I’m so not pretty anymore my life is ooooovvvvveeeeerrrrrr” melodrama because nobody cares, girl. And then in another chapter, she gets drunk because she drinks two bottles of wine and then literally whines, “This has never happened to me before!!!” while ranting about how she needs to get back to Orion and reclaim her goddess-status. If you know that being a human’s different from being a goddess, you have to know that you’re weaker and more susceptible to illness and imperfection. But no, she continues to cry over how much of a lightweight she is.
In Katrina and Charlie’s point of view, True would constantly spout random shit that just made her seem really desperate and annoying. She would pretty much say out loud that she only needed x amount of match-ups left to be allowed back to Orion, and all it would do was make it harder for anyone to want to put their love life into their hands. She would push girls onto Charlie and even when he obviously wasn’t interested, True would whine at him and try and get him to give the girl in question a chance.
Both Katrina and Charlie were perfect for each other—because they were such pushovers. Katrina was in SUCH a toxic relationship, both with her old boyfriend and friends, and the fact that she didn’t even bother standing up for herself made me so mad. She didn’t even get angry at them for what they did to her. They treated her like utter shit and she wouldn’t even think, “That doesn’t sound right,” she’d be like, “I guess they’re not very close friends with me because they’re siding with her this time” instead. The same went with Charlie, because he couldn’t even stand up for himself and even though on the inside he would be screaming for help, on the outside he grinned and bore it.
I gave Only Everything that extra half star for the possibility of character development by the end, although with how much the supporting and main characters annoyed me, I wasn’t going to hold out. The ending did nothing to convince me to return to my reading spot and actually finish it, except for maybe the progression of Charlie and Katrina’s relationship, which was still nonexistent at 50% so I’m not sure how well that would’ve went over any other way.
It seems that the contemporary books I count on to lift my spirits have actually been crashing and burning, this one unfortunately not being that one book to break my unlucky streak.
At the end of eighth grade, Lucy Carpenter was mortified when she tried to make a move on her best guy friend, Jackson, wherein he responded, "Don't.” Years later, Lucy, moving in with Mikayla to a quant house, is suddenly thrust back into Jackson's world, but that's where the cliché story ends. Jackson actually ends up falling for Lucy's best friend Mikayla, which causes a series of problems and turmoil. Personally, I felt that Mikayla and Jackson's relationship was so stupid because she didn't even know his name at first and then all of a sudden she was willing throw away her best friend for the sake of a guy she barely knew. If my best friend had bad history with someone, I wouldn't go after that someone if I barely knew him or her. But not only was their relationship rushed and implausible, Mikayla briefly asked Lucy her opinion, and when Lucy replied a vague, "Sure," Mikayla interpreted it as a sign that she was doing things right and shouldn't change the amount of communication she was having with him. If you’re her best friend, you should be able to tell she’s not sincere, and you should be trying to take the relationship slower for the sake of your friend. Maybe it’s unorthodox of me, but personally I believe that a friendship takes precedence over a romance.
How to Meet Boys is told in both Mikayla and Lucy's perspectives, so you see both of them falling for a guy and having their share of romantic moments. I didn't particularly favor any of the relationships featured, and I felt that the conversation between the two couples at times was dry and lifeless.
Basically *and the following is an exaggeration*:
Lucy: hey Love Interest: hey L: what's up you look different LI: nah it's probably just my new watch L: lol cool
Lucy didn't even seem that bothered by Mikayla's relationship with Jackson, but we were told that she isn't supposed to like the idea of her almost-boyfriend and her best friend hooking up. Whenever she's not having a flimsy rant over how upset she is about the whole thing, she’s having a side romance. Since they worked together at Lucy’s grandparent’s store, they spent a lot of time together. By that point, I believed there was more chemistry between Lucy and Jackson than either of the real relationships going. Lucy and Mikayla’s friend dynamic is flimsy at best, and it’s irrelevant to have the fact that they’re best friends thrown in there if they don’t even spend that much time with each other.(less)
Why does this keep happening to me? All these amazing books that have received a ton of hype, and none of it has been up my alley! Better off Friends is pretty cute, yes, but it also has some flaws that I couldn’t really overlook.
First off, I loved Levi and Macallan’s relationship. They met when Levi first moved from California and soon became best friends. Their conversations are so best-friend material, encompassing everything that two people close to each other would say. I loved how comfortable and easygoing they were towards each other, and it was the small gestures they exchanged that really clinched it for me. There was this one scene where Levi saw Macallan at a restaurant and just put his head on her shoulder while she was order, like it was nothing. Even though I didn’t approve of Levi’s motives, the act in itself was adorable and super cute. Their friendship is the kind of relationship I want to have with someone. I want a best friend as dedicated as they are towards each other!
Past the content of their friendship, I can’t say I loved anything else. I felt like the first half was kind of slow, because I understand that it was to build up the relationship between Levi and Macallan, it wasn’t very interesting. I feel like I was either in the wrong mindset, but I just can’t explain why I felt bored by it. Furthermore, I wasn’t a fan of Levi’s character. I feel like the reason his feelings towards Macallan suddenly changed was groundless. It was a classic best-friend moment, but right after Levi started obsessing over what was going on, and the shift was way too abrupt for my liking.(less)
At first, I absolutely loved this book. And then right after I made my "I'm stopping my blog" hoorah post, I decided to reread Open Road Summer to make me happy and to hopefully break the pit feeling in my stomach I've had that I'm outgrowing young adult books. However, after rereading this book, I felt absolutely nothing reading it again compared to the first time.
The rating for this one went down from a four and a half star rating to a two star rating. And while it may seem harsh, as I was rereading it, I noticed a particularly disgusting thing: the slut-shaming. Reagan didn’t feel any remorse calling a girl a “slut” or a “skank” or “trashy” if they were wearing tight clothes. Like, if she saw girls hanging around Matt, she’d call them a slut, mainly because she felt threatened by them. Okay, so if you think you’re better than them, then you have nothing to gain by calling them a slut. In reality, she acted the same way that they did. She would adjust her bra for “maximum cleavage” when she saw Max coming towards her, and while there’s nothing WRONG with that, she’s a hypocrite for putting other girls down for doing the same thing. It was absolutely ridiculous how she didn’t even reflect on herself when unfairly labeling other girls for their appearances. She’s expressing herself through her clothes, and that’s completely okay, but if she condemns others for doing the same thing, then we have an issue.
And there was this one time where she described Matt's best friend as "wholesome." Like if you're gonna poorly judge someone as fat from a picture to make yourself feel better, just don't! At least try not to make it sound like you're a sarcastic bitch who's trying to boost your own self esteem by comparing you to others.
Another thing I didn’t particularly like the second time around was how stupid the “drama” was. Most of it involved Dee finding out about some rumor someone was spreading about her (she’s a celebrity, that’s obviously going to happen!) and then freaking out about it. One time, someone got a picture of her while she looked bloated and was like, “IS SHE PREGNANT!?!?!?!?” and Dee had a huge meltdown over the rumor. The only person who even remotely reasonable about this was Reagan, and all she said was that it would blow over. Literally, if Dee just let the rumor sit for a month or even a few weeks, the rumor would die down. Stars rarely ever do something about one little rumor, like if she were to lay low for a few months it'd be obvious she wasn't pregnant like one magazine said. Especially with something like pregnancy. Your stomach grows a lot when you're pregnant, so the rest of Dee's mere existence would directly contradict the one picture.
However, there was something that remained constant throughout both read-throughs—I loved the friendship between Dee and Reagan, especially how Reagan was always there for Dee’s career. Dee, an up-and-coming country singer, was currently on tour, so Reagan had been tagging along for the summer until she entered senior year. This ensued a series of laughs, heart-to-hearts, and all of the things you’d expect in a friendship as close as theirs. I envied how close they were at times, because I want someone that I’m so close with that I would ask them to come on tour with me if I became a famous singer (or vice-versa.)
ORIGINAL REVIEW I started this book at 10 PM on a school night, read straight through the book in one sitting, and ended at 1 AM, feeling a plethora of fuzzy feelings in the pit of my stomach and happy beyond belief. Open Road Summer paves the inspirational story of an unbreakable bond between two imperfect best friends and a heart-tingling romance—it’s addicting and close to perfect.
The one aspect that I was not a fan of was Reagan’s behavior for the shortest period of time at the end. I mean, I know she’s emotionally guarded and trying to work on her quick-to-judge attitude, but she was so stubborn. She wouldn’t listen to anyone, because she thought that she was right, even if what she believed had been taken out of context. It was a fairly ridiculous way of thinking, especially when everyone around her was trying to convince her that she had misconstrued everything. Besides that, Reagan was such a great character with so many different layers. She was sarcastic and witty, a truly delightful protagonist that warranted a fair share of laughs from me. However, we quickly learned that this facetious, flirty side of her was only a front to protect the inner turmoil lurking beneath the surface, evoking a lot of sympathy from me.
When Reagan first met Matt, there was immediately a sense of chemistry between the two, and I loved every minute of it! I was already loved Reagan’s quick wit and snarky personality, but it seemed to amplify when she was around Matt. What worked even better was that he seemed to be able to match her jabs in a round of flirt fighting, filing Open Road Summer’s pages with romantic tension and gooey feelings. The book is split two ways between the romance and the friendship, and I equally loved both. Still, Emery knows how to build a romance between two characters in a way that feels sweet and fervent at the same time. In between their irresistible banter, there were earnest conversations that made my heart melt even further. Everybody has something that haunts them, whether it’s big or small, including Matt and Reagan. I adored their honesty towards each other, how they were able to bare their souls to each other to display their unshakable trust.
And come on, who doesn’t love singers who are also country boys? You get the allure of a Southern boy mixed in with the awesomeness of a singer. Being a singer=at least 20 points on your attractiveness, and the Southern boy probably makes up for the rest of the points, at least in Matt’s case. I just love him! I also love Reagan and Dee’s friendship, especially how Reagan’s there for Dee’s career. Dee, also an up-and-coming country singer, is currently on tour, so Reagan’s been tagging along for the summer until she enters senior year. This ensues a series of laughs, heart-to-hearts, and all of the things you’d expect in a friendship as close as theirs. I envied how close they were at times, because I want someone that I’m so close with that I would ask them to come on tour with me if I became a famous singer (or vice-versa.)(less)
Sweet Reckoning is an explosive ending to a popular trilogy, a book that almost didn’t get published for an indefinite amount of time. While many will be preaching the words of Wendy Higgins, I unfortunately will not be joining the ranks of adoring fans.
I think what clinched the reading experience for me was how disconnected I felt from the story as a whole. The chemistry between Kaidan and Anna wasn’t as on point as I expected it to be, the plot twists weren’t as shocking as originally anticipated, and the ending felt subpar. I don’t anticipate that many others will feel the same way that I do, because this book has a lot of desirable elements. Wendy’s writing ensures that you’ll have a fun time reading. I also appreciated how much Anna has grown as a character. She’s significantly changed ever since we were first introduced to her in Sweet Evil. When I first got into her head two books ago, I got the impression that she a little annoying with how she vigilantly tried to maintain her innocence. But she’s a badass now! Anna is fierce and has a significantly better tolerance of vulgar terms. Even though that aspect doesn’t really matter, it plays a large role in a supposed prophecy that focuses on Anna and how she’ll put all the demons back into heaven.
Overall, Sweet Reckoning seemed too innocent. Maybe it was the fact that nothing truly challenging happened to Anna. I had a epiphany at the climax because I was thinking of how every Nephilim was either for Anna or against her. However, if they were against her, they were secretly for her, so she kind of had everything handed to her on a silver platter. Perhaps I’m glorifying the reality of the situation, but I never felt the true sense of danger in each situation, except for maybe this one section that I can’t disclose because of spoilers. It seemed that wherever Anna went, she had multiple allies to defend and protect her. While having a substantial amount of allies isn’t a bad thing at all, the fact that Anna was never surprised by anything because someone had told them beforehand what was going on really bothered me. The feeling of innocence also was in part to the fact that I had completely forgotten Sweet Peril and was underwhelmed by a lot of things because I didn’t remember many of the character relationships.
The ending was really rushed, and it was a big reason why I ended up deeming the book three stars. I feel like a plot twist was incorporated to add a sense of urgency, but then the initial impact wore off quickly. Basically, the problem was talked out of. They stopped threatening each other, bickered over all these different things, fought for about five minutes, and then everything was over. Kind of anticlimactic. if you ask me, and also I was a little disappointed with the happily ever after of the ending. Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril had all of these bittersweet sacrifices that I dared to hope the same thing would happen. Unfortunately, nothing did. There was one instance that was supposed to instill emotion, but I was still underwhelmed by it, despite how much I wanted to feel moved.(less)
When I found this on my Kindle library, possessing no previous knowledge of where or when I downloaded it, I decided to start reading, even though it seemed like a long shot after the first few chapters. However, still I journeyed on, and still found nothing too special about this book.
Tess was way too focused on the romance, overall. The book centered around two things: the romance and her efforts to try to keep a pixieball alive. The pixieball is supposedly a rare breed, the last one of its kind, that her grandpa stole and grew himself. Her mother carried on the tradition, caring for it, and now it’s her turn. However, it’s gotten sick, therefore Henry and Tess are in an “urgent” race to find a cure for whatever disease Pix (her name for the pixieball) has. But, even though the pixieball is super important to her, enough that she’s willing to go through all the crap she goes through to try and save it, she doesn’t care when it comes down to the plant, or Henry. Sure, she cares about Pix, but when Henry tries to talk about saving it, Tess is more focused on how much they’re making out and the idea of them two together. Henry’s trying really hard to immortalize Pix, and Tess is more concerned that a letter heading says, “Dear Tess and Henry.” She’s more interested in the fact that their names are together on a freaking letter than on her plant that’s dying! And she constantly tries to make out with him when he seems like he may not be in the mood or want to talk about something on his mind.
Speaking of their romance, there was absolutely no chemistry between the two. Their “I really like you” statements could have held the equivalent passion as if they were acquaintances who barely knew each other in high school catching up on the side of the road. Their dialogue and conversations were bland, holding no substance or meaning. The beginning was cute, but when the story morphed into Pix’s illness, I was hoping that the character development would begin. There were some nice sentiments made in The Last Forever, like how not everything is picturesque and perfect like in movies and television series, but in the end it wasn’t quite what I was expecting or needing to compensate for the disposable romance and static characters.
During the first few chapters, Tess actually had a boyfriend named Dillon. But then it was dismissed within three sentences, something like, “Oh, apparently Dillon broke up with me…” and then Tess was free to chase after Henry Lark. It was an easy sentence to overlook, and because I was already disinterested in the story, I skipped over what I thought was a useless two sentences. Turns out, it was those sentences that freed up Tess’s relationship status. I had to look back and double-check when I remembered she previously had a boyfriend. When I found and familiarized myself with the section in question, I realized that it had been glossed over and glorified. It wasn’t memorable enough for me to remember it or for it to properly register in my brain. There wasn’t even a telltale reason why he decided to break up with her, but whatever. No development needed there.(less)
After falling in love with My Life After Now, I had high hopes for The Summer I Wasn’t Me, but unfortunately several aspects proved detrimental to my overall enjoyment of the book.
First and foremost, I appreciated Jessica’s choice to tackle a subject such as LGBTQIAPK (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, interest, asexual, and kinky, according to Why We Need More Sex Labels). While only the lesbian and gay portions of the acronym were addressed, the concept of a “de-gayifying” camp was absolutely absurd. The majority of the world population knows that you’re born with your sexuality, but I went with the idea that your sexuality could be changed at a camp, because it was meant to instill a sense of outrage in The Summer I Wasn’t Me’s audience. That did not mean I was okay with what happened later on in the book. The camp seemed to revolve around the idea that its attendants were gay or lesbian because they were raised with skewed perceptions of gender roles. The girls were taught that their real role in society was to look pretty and perform “feminine” actions, like cleaning and taking care of the house. The boys were taught to play sports and do the heavy-lifting in a relationship. It got to the point where it made me see red, but I went along with it, because, again, that was part of the camp’s characterization.
”Think about it, Lexi. Your whole life, your parents have given you mixed signals about the roles of men and women. Your mother worked out of the home. She dressed like a man. She shared the head of household duties with your father, thereby reducing his masculine identity.”
However, I don’t understand how brainwashing a bunch of kids into believing in a medieval set of gender roles “cures” the disease of being gay? If a woman acts like a man, does it mean that she’s gay? Today, there are people who strictly follow the Bible’s teachings and believe that women should behave traditionally. Even if you do identify with those teachings, you can’t deny that women and men’s roles in society are blurring together. Stay-at-home dads and stay-at-home moms exist, women are gaining rights across the board, and that’s been a great step for feminism in the last century! So, if there are that many people who are going against “traditional” gender roles, does that mean that all of their children are gay? Mr. Martin, the person in charge of the camp, blamed Lexi’s lack of real parental figures, a mom that stays at home and a dad who works everyday, for her being lesbian. That was really stupid, and the fact that Lexi went along with what he said and didn’t even think about calling him out for his blunder.
Some of the things he said were so unrealistic, and the methods used to alleviate each teen’s “gayness” were uncalled for and completely cruel. Another question I’d like to address: how was the camp still running? Some of the aforementioned methods deployed in order to guide each patient, for lack of a better term, towards the Land of the Straight, made them cry. It was quite unorthodox, but since I don’t know what one would actually do to relieve the unfortunate state of being gay (that was a completely sarcastic statement), I blindly continued in the beginning. However, in the end, things got intense and crazy, but still nobody questioned what was going on. If I was at this camp and was forced to do things that I didn’t want to do, things that made me cry, I’d want out of that camp immediately. There was another instance where I was questioning why New Horizons Camp was still running, because it was obvious that after the camp was over, each patient was free to go home and tell their parents everything that happened. How come nobody even bothered to tell their parents or another trustworthy individual about what the camp was truly like?(less)
Originally I was so sure I wouldn’t enjoy this one, from the beginning that was mediocre, nothing that assured a pleasant reading experience, Luckily, after a few chapters everything turned around for the better. I was dumbfounded by Morgan’s cold attitude towards everybody that she encountered. Her persona was shrouded with coldness and it was like she had drawn “ice queen” onto her forehead in Sharpie. However, despite how forcefully she tried to shove people away, it didn’t bother me. I was more concerned with how little was given about her past. Morgan was closed off because of a video that had gone viral a few months ago, one that we don’t fully realize until much later in the book. It was the embarrassment of her life, and she was always mortified when people teased her about it. The “big reveal” of what the video really was about came a little later than I had anticipated and hoped, but I liked how it was handled.
This book is a book that gets better and better as the plot goes on. It starts with Morgan embarking on a journey with two friends to find her father, but ends by bringing the plot full circle in a classic bildungsroman. Her relationship with Amy and Adam, two coworkers at an amusement park that managed to force their way into her dad search, truly spoke to me. Janet made it possible for three teens who previously had nothing to do with each other grow together and become best friends. Their friend dynamic wasn’t one that was forced or rushed; with Amy’s passion and tenacity, Adam’s dorky tendencies, and Morgan’s drive, the trio shared memories that I didn’t think that they would. Amidst these bonding sessions, there was a telltale shift from Morgan’s guarded self to an open, willing character that could still dish out some heavy sass when needed.
16 Things I Thought Were True focused on the motif of lies and deception, each character seeming to hold a secret or suppress a truth. I appreciated how often it was incorporated into the story line without it becoming repetitious, a new lie seeming to occur at every turn. It was surprising how many characters were keeping secrets from others, revealing how even the most open person has one thing that they don’t want anybody else to know. With that being said, when the final reveal came along, it felt anticlimactic. The last secret we were left underwhelmed at first, but it wasn’t that big of an issue. The story continued to progress and transform at the end, becoming more than just a goose chase across the country. Janet Gurtler’s most recent novel is inspiring, bringing into light the power of friendship and the power of one’s own mind.(less)
Kasie West is officially one of my favorite authors, securing her position as one of the most talented authors I have ever had the privilege of reading. Her stories are lighthearted, captivating, and spine-tingling, Split Second being no exception.
From the first page, I was impatient and eager to see Addie and Trevor reunite, due to how strongly I shipped them ever since Pivot Point. Split Second picks up a few months after its predecessor, as Addie and Laila began dealing with the events of Pivot Point. With the added perspective of Laila, we still got to see the life inside the Compound and life outside, the best of both worlds. Laila was witty and her personality had me laughing out loud, especially her relationship with Connor. I didn't expect to enjoy their romance together, but where Addie and Trevor's relationship was cute and tender, Laila and Connor's was racing with sexual tension. My only issue with Laila was that she continuously strung Connor along, manipulating him even though she obviously had feelings for him. It wasn't a very prevalent issue, but something that bothered me when Laila completely disregarded Connor's feelings.
I didn't think I could love Addie and Trevor any more, but Kasie proved me wrong in one of the most satisfying methods possible. And given that I could barely remember any of the tender moments shared between the couple in the first book, it was a miracle I could still feel the same feelings that I did then. Split Second establishes the attraction between the two early on and further develops it as they share new moments that are actually palpable. The most heartbreaking thing about falling in love with Trevor through Addie's eyes is that Addie feels something extra lurking underneath the surface, like there was something she was missing, whereas Trevor was only meeting her for the first time.
Split Second is more romance-oriented than anything else, but it still contains the paranormal element that lacks in proper development, but with such compelling characters and relationships tying them together, who cares? The pacing is wonderful, as Laila and Connor work together to expand Laila's ability and Addie copes with what happened to her after their encounter with Bobby. The chapters meld together, and the events in one girl's perspective is carried over to the next, ideas and theories bouncing back and forth. The paranormal aspect is never lost on the actual story, and Kasie juggles two budding love stories and intense paranormal pacing like a seasoned pro. You would never be able to tell that this is her third book in two years; instead you'd think it was her tenth book in two decades, because the themes and mood of this story are spot-on and expertly executed. (less)
The Romeo Club is cute and nerdy, the perfect combination for someone who’s a fan of romances that start between long-time friends and subsequently develop into something more.
When Delyla Denson helps her brother get a date with his long-time crush, his friends find out about it and want the same advice, which sets the stage for our story. As she helps CC, Kevin, and Trey land the girls they have their eyes on, Delyla deals with her fair share of drama, such as conflicting feelings towards her neighbor and brother’s best friend, Trey. I really liked the idea of the whole Romeo Club (what Delyla called her match-making “services,” so to speak); it was cute and funny, although I felt like the beginning was rushed. Within the very first chapter, she was helping her brother hook up with someone and then in the next chapter all of her brother’s friends knew about it and wanted to get in on the action. Either way, after I recovered from the abrupt shift, I began to enjoy it all.
I found that I actually related fairly well to The Romeo Club, mainly because it was a lot of back and forth in terms of her affection for Trey and vice-versa. It wasn’t something I noticed until three fourths of the way through the book, but it set up grounds to which I could sympathize with the overall conflict. However, despite how much I sympathized with Delyla, I wasn’t a fan of her whole “sabotage” mentality. It’s mentioned in passing in the synopsis, but when I fully got a taste of what was going on, I can’t say I was an advocate for her behavior in trying to ruin Trey’s love life for her own selfish reasons. Especially when you spend that much time setting a guy up with a girl he seems to really like, you can’t just abruptly switch to the sabotage with a capital S tactic.
I wasn’t particularly to fond of the whole subplot of Jimbo, the neighbor’s horny dog. While he was there purely for comedic relief, more times than not I was wondering how he was even relevant. He basically was there to steal the neighborhood’s belongings, and somehow, Delyla would ALWAYS catch Jimbo in the act of stealing something, take it from him, and then the stolen item’s owner would conveniently show up. Upon seeing the lost item in Delyla’s hand instead of Jimbo’s, they’d be like, “You’re so disgusting and foul, I can’t believe you’d steal something like this!!!” even though she would try to explain that it was the dog. What was even the point of that? I didn’t quite understand why that part was even included because it felt like it weighed the entire book down, and not even the neighbors’ wrath towards her, but the inclusion of Jimbo and his owners’ characters.
Despite how negative my review makes this book out to be, The Romeo Club is a flamboyant read, and I would recommend it to fans of high school romances.(less)
after rereading this book yesterday i've realized that there a few issues in the book like how in the end Anna cries SO. FREAKING. MUCH. that it kind...moreafter rereading this book yesterday i've realized that there a few issues in the book like how in the end Anna cries SO. FREAKING. MUCH. that it kind of gets old but overall this book is so sweet and adorable and honestly a perfect book(less)
At first, I was skeptical at the idea of one girl living in a household with twelve Walter boys (technically eleven, but the other girl was a tomboy and considered a guy). But since I was looking on Wattpad and stumbled across this one before I was asked to join the tour, I jumped at the chance at reviewing a book that I was already slightly familiar with. My Life With the Walter Boys is comical, endearing, and romantic, with Jackie struggling to fit in amongst this rowdy group of boys. I was really expecting for Jackie to bond with the younger boys as well as with the older boys, and Ali luckily satisfied my needs. While each relationship wasn’t fully fleshed out between the boys, it was like she was a part of the family. I also appreciated how there was animosity and welcoming towards a new addition to the family, because twelve children is already spreading the parents of the family thin. The different effects and responses to Jackie’s moving in provided a realistic perspective of what was going on inside the Walter household.
There is an obvious issue with the romance, and that’s in the love triangle. It sort of reminded me of The Summer I Turned Pretty’s relationship structure, but it wasn’t tiring to me. I ended up liking it to an extent. enjoying the tender moments that Cole and Jackie shared together, but hating how he strung her along because he was conflicted for his feelings towards her. I liked the comfort of Alex and Jackie’s relationship, but I didn’t like how Cole was constantly trying to break them apart so he could have her. The drama infused throughout the relationship was understandable, and a narcotic side of me enjoyed Cole’s volatility, Jackie’s indecision, and Alex’s oblivion. The banter between Jackie and Cole always managed to make me laugh, their witty remarks fresh and enlightening. While the romance isn't anything particularly special, it's very cute and endearing.
Besides the romantic relationships, there was also plenty of friendships forming. The one I’d like to highlight was between Nathan and Jackie. Their platonic friendship spoke to me because they were truly like the brother-sister pair that was reminiscent of my relationship with my brother. Another thing I’d like to point out, the negative aspects of the book, was Jackie and Sammy’s relationship. Sammy, Jackie’s best friend from her old town, played a relatively minor role in the book, even though she was Jackie’s best friend. After two conversations, Jackie stopped talking to Sammy, which baffled me because they were, I repeat, best friends. With new friendships and relationships budding, it would have been nice for her to at least hold on to one old friendship. Finally, my last quibble had to do with Jackie’s coping process. Her entire family died in a car accident, and even though she felt like she was betraying her family by allowing herself to fall in love again, she didn’t seem that affected by it. If I were her, I’d be crying every night, having nightmares, etc. etc. I didn’t mind that she was happy, but I wanted her healing process to play a role in the book. Instead, it was mostly romance and drama.
My Life With the Walter Boys is a quick read that had me cracking up with Cole and Jackie’s fun interactions. The book is like whipped cream: light, sweet, and oh-so delicious—perfect for anyone in the mood to let loose and relax.(less)
Side Effects May Vary, contrary to the positive reviews everywhere, was a strong miss for me. I found the main characters annoying, the pacing disarming, the severe gender stereotyping, and the organization messy. I was looking for a cancer book that would punch me in the gut with redemption and justification, but ultimately my gut was untouched and rather disappointed.
First of all, the pacing was rather a mess. We have four different perspectives happening, Alice and Harvey now, and Alice and Harvey then. Not only were Alice and Harvey’s individual voices impossible to tell apart most of the time, but the “then” and “now” scenes were completely jumbled up. We’d randomly have five chapters now, and then ten chapters then, and so on and so forth. It was disorganized, and the plot suffered because of it. The “then” was mostly to establish what Alice did when she first found out she had cancer, but with the lack of a pattern in the chapters, it seemed easier just to split the book into two parts, one half detailing what she went through before she went into remission, and the other half about how she coped with the consequences, as opposed to jumbled up chapters that confused and bored me.
Our two main characters, Alice and Harvey, are well-developed, with a palpable and sound characterization. By the end, I made the conclusion that Side Effects May Vary isn’t really about Alice; it’s about Harvey and his unrequited love for Alice. Either that or this book lost its way in my brain, because while Alice was the one dealing with leukemia, this book strongly focused on the hot-and-cold relationship of Alice and Harvey. Bluntly, Alice was a bitch, and Harvey was a pushover. Alice repeatedly used Harvey for her twisted bucket list of people she wanted to screw over. Personally, I understood why she may have held angry feelings towards these people, but the way she acted outside of those instances were unforgivable. In maybe the second chapter, after Alice finds out she’s in remission, there’s a chapter where she and Harvey are sharing an intimate moment together. Then in the next chapter, she’s hooking up with another guy and is apathetic towards Harvey when he catches her in the process of hooking up. Around halfway through the book, pages and pages later, Alice began harping on and on about how Harvey started dating another girl and how Alice had finally chose him, but he instead went and chose another girl. I would’ve been slightly sympathetic if she hadn’t done the same thing to him earlier with Eric.
Harvey, who was even worse than Alice, was a total pushover. He submitted to everything Alice told him to do, and even when everybody knew that he was being used by her, he seemed okay with it.
”You are in love with me, and you always have been. But this is the truth, Harvey: I don’t love you. Not at all. Not you, not anyone, and anything.” And because that wasn’t enough, because I hadn’t done enough damage, I said, “You’re sad and pathetic. You have no spine, and the fact that you think someone like me could ever love someone like you only proves my point.
After Alice acts like a total bitch to him, he still chooses to go back to her and he still loves her, no matter how bitchy she acts towards him. Harvey actually was a sweet guy, which made Alice deserve him even less because she insinuates that she’s almost better than him, in a way, and even when she tries to act nice, she ruins it with a complete move that made me want to punch her, even if she was in remission.
”You can’t apologize for my feelings and expect things to be better.” He paused. “Especially not when you’re the reason for them.”
I knew what he was talking about, but that hadn’t been what I meant. I didn’t think. “Harvey—“
“No,” he said. “An apology like that makes it sound like you had nothing to do with why I was mad when you were what got me all angry in the first place.” His voice rose with each word. “That’s not okay.”
“I—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to sound that way.” I almost said it, that I was sorry for how I'd acted and what I did, but instead I said, “Do you want to write up your own apology and I can sign it? Would that work for you?”
Jesus Christ, Alice, just because you had cancer doesn’t mean that you can alienate your best friend and expect him to continue to be your friend after you said something like that. She constantly acted like the world owed her something for making her go through cancer, and while cancer is a devastating disease, she did not have the right to say, “I felt like the universe owed me this.” The universe doesn’t owe anybody anything. As pessimistic as it may sound, her having cancer doesn’t make her special. Cancer is devastating, tragic, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody, but people unfortunately still get it, and those who do may be entitled to certain things, but it doesn’t give them the right to act like they’re special or that everybody around them owes them something because they had cancer, which is exactly what Alice did. She was reckless, angry, and didn’t seem to care how she could hurt those around her.
During the “then” chapters, while Alice was going through chemo, I had a question gnawing at my mind: Where were her parents? Harvey was the one driving her to and from her chemo sessions, and wouldn’t you think that her parents would have wanted to be around for something like that? And when she was executing all of her pranks and screwing over all the people who had originally screwed her over, where were her parents? Where were the authority figures that disciplined her or at least Harvey? The stuff they did was serious, and there is no way that the principal didn’t know about what they did.
Finally, the stereotyping used in Side Effects May Vary. A certain scene in general pissed me off, and it was when Alice met Tyson, a gay boy, in the bathroom. Even though they had never really talked before, Tyson started confessing pretty much his entire life story to her, even though no earlier relationship was established. Tyson then proceeded to start crying in the middle of his story, and while it may be true for some guys, it’s an overused gay stereotype. All the gay guys are over emotional, and at first I let it go, but as the trend of stereotyping continued, it was harder to let go.
It wasn’t really a guy car, but it was my car. —Harvey
Because gender stereotyping is totally okay, and admitting that having a car that’s “girly” isn’t something he’s completely comfortable with is also okay, like “girly” things signify weakness and that you’re a pussy, whereas guy things must signify manliness. Another example was when Harvey was confronting Alice about her always using him, and after she dismisses him quickly even though she knows he’s right, he throws this line at her:
"You never surprise me, Alice, which is such a disappointment.” —Harvey
That line was completely unnecessary in what they were talking about. Like “you’re such a disappointment because you always use me and I always know that you’re using me.” But Alice is really shocked by what he said, and how I interpreted was that even though he knew that she was using her, he constantly kept coming to her, indicating how much of a pushover he was and how much of a manipulator Alice was. Out of context, Harvey’s saying that it’s Alice’s job to surprise him and keep him on his toes, even though that’s not what a girl or guy’s role should ever be in a relationship. While the irrelevant translation means nothing towards the actual book, that piece of dialogue should have been worded differently, like, “You’re never going to change, Alice, which is such a disappointment.” Something like that, something that didn’t offend me as extremely as it did. It’s nitpicky beyond nitpicky, but with the earlier instance (not all covered in this review), that one line really affected me.
While I understand why some people could have enjoyed this book, it was extremely hard for me to. The stereotyping thrown everywhere and Alice’s character pissed me off to the point of no return, and I was extremely apathetic towards Side Effects May Vary.(less)
As soon as I began this one, I had fluttery feelings and expectations for what would happen during the book. I was expecting Finn to be a strong force in the book, showing up in almost every other scene. In freshman year, scrawny Finn had a huge crush on Anna, and they were dating for a while, until during the dance Anna ditched Finn on the dance floor and completely burned him. Shortly thereafter, Finn moved away from Los Angeles and didn’t come back until senior year, where he has magically transformed from scrawny, awkward Finn into tall, hot Finn. It seems like the plot device where the nerdy boy with glasses transforms into a hot boy is overused and oftentimes a superficial way of giving a protagonist a reason to like the love interest. It's as if being hot is one of the deciding factors that someone should have feelings for another person, and I would have been slightly turned off by the prospect of that, had it not been for the earlier development of how Anna grew to appreciate freshman Finn's quirks and nerdy tendencies before his physical transformation. When we are reintroduced to new and improved Finn, my heart began pounding in anticipation for what would happen to move their romance forward.
However, I was slightly disappointed with how little Finn was even incorporated into the book. Instead of a focus on rekindling the romance between the two and having them fall in love again, what we really saw was Anna third wheeling like a boss most of the time with either her father and Ginny or Lily and Finn. I skimmed over a lot of the sections in the middle, wiling myself to get through them because I still held out hope that the next scene would feature Finn. However, Anna and Finn rarely got any alone time to bond, except for maybe one or two incidents. Finn and Anna should have done more things together, and they probably lived near each other because they used to be in the same carpool. Without the development in the middle, the ending came off as abrupt and sprung on us in a random manner.
The Last Best Kiss has its fair share of annoying characters. Anna, the youngest child and sister to Lizzie and Molly, had not only a negligent father but also an absent mother. With her dysfunctional family, there was room to develop the family, but Lizzie and their father were intolerable. Lizzie acted as though Molly and Anna were inferior to her because they took after their mother, but that was made them better. Who would want to be like their father, who was selfish and conniving? Lizzie also was selfish, and she held herself on a pedestal of impossibly high standards. There were also flaws within Anna’s circle of friends, Lily for example. She cared about nothing else than herself, and she always had to have her way. She truly was the definition of a spoiled brat, always expecting to get what she wanted when she wanted it. Finally, Lucy was possibly another illogical character. She constantly obsessed over her grade, and she annoyed everyone else about how she stressed over it. If it was any indication to how positively annoying it was, the way Lucy was written almost made it seem that any semi-intelligent person had to be anal and naggy about this sort of thing.
A cute retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, The Last Best Kiss will be for any fan of Jane Austen retellings and a must-read if only for Finn’s personality and the first and last portions.(less)
For anybody gearing up to read this book, I would like to share a few tips when it comes to this one. For one, keep reading. No matter what you do, keep reading. Told in both of our protagonists Charley and Thad’s points of view, the beginning is positively boring, and I was honestly underwhelmed. I was hoping for a problem to be established as soon as Charley found Thad and the rest of the civilization of people on the island of Nil. However, it seemed that all Charley did was walk around and dreaming about Thad, while all Thad did was attempt to lead the civilization of other teens stuck on Nil, otherwise known as the City, and fantasize about Charley. From how analytical Charley’s dialogue was, she continued to question the framework of Nil and how the island worked. The catch was you came into Nil through a “gate,” almost like a portal, and if you found and caught another gate, you went back home to society. Teens from all over the world showed up, and Charley was one of the first people who ever questioned Nil and the pattern of gates, out of hundreds and hundreds of other people on the island. I didn’t believe that before Charley came onto the island, people relied on finding gates by wandering around aimlessly instead of attempting to find a pattern to them. And somehow Charley went from having nothing to go on to figuring out practically the entire island. Come on, how come no one even thought of making a map?
Nil’s first half was really a huge mess, because while I understood it was to establish the atmosphere of the island and to let Charley in on all that was going on, there was a complete lack of drama throughout the entire first section. By the second half, there was slightly more, but to make up for the lack of drama or something happening, Lynne tried to build the relationship of Thad and Charley. It would have been okay if it weren’t for the severe case of insta-love. As soon as they laid eyes on each other, they started fantasizing about how they were looking at the most beautiful person they’d ever seen, and it seemed that their ardent love with each other had taken over all of their thoughts.
After the first half, the plot picked up and morphed into a mystery that slowly added on top of each other. The bonus was that Thad was nearing the timestamp of a year on the island, which added the urgency of the situation, because after 365 days, if you haven’t made it through a gate and off the island, you die. As Charley was in a desperate fight to figure out what was going on with the island to Thad racing for his life, I flew through the last half. It was more than worth the struggle I went through in the beginning. Fans of logic and a type of book that doesn’t provide a dangerous atmosphere but rather a laid-back one with a small scent of desperation must read this one soon. Although I felt that Thad’s decision at the end of the book was the stupidest idea I’d ever come across, the plot before the fact compensated for it.
Nil by Lynne Matson is a great read for its mystery and high stakes, and any Maze Runner fans would enjoy the style and concept. If not for the insta-love and slow beginning, this one could have been rated much higher.(less)
Due to my recent hunger for a cute contemporary to bring me to a different carefree world, I loved Ask Again Later. There was a certain flippancy about the whole thing, and combined with how much parallel universes appeal to me. Liz Czukas has a talent for handling the two universes, overlapping prom events effortlessly and avoiding redundancy with those overlaps. After Heart was asked to prom twice by two different people, she was torn between who she planned to take, even though both didn’t view her romantically. One was her brother Phil’s best friend Troy, who had been recently been dumped by her girlfriend, making Heart a pity date. The other one was one of her theatre geek friends, who only wanted to go with her as friends. Heart decided to settle the matter by flipping a coin, and then lived both prom nights until they overlapped into one specific scene. I loved how awkward her prom experience was, from a care package she received from her aunt, her multiple mishaps, and the differences in her two nights, despite the same general events.
My least favorite character was by far Heart’s brother Phil. First, he forced his best friend onto her, completely disregarding her feelings towards what was going on. Second, when she was having a bad prom night and wanted to go home, Phil basically told Heart to stop acting like a baby and to suck it up. Third, he made her to go to a party in the limo with him even though she was feeling hesitant and wanted to go to the party with her friends. What kind of jerk brother manipulates his own sister like that? It also infuriated me that the choice where Heart chose to go with the theatre geek was by far the better choice, and she wouldn’t have been conflicted if it were not for Phil’s epic douchery. However, Heart kept defending him and other characters were fabricating excuses at his expense to explain for his behavior.
I felt a connection to Heart as soon as I was introduced to her and her snarky attitude. She had a sarcastic joke for everything, and the way she could make light of any and every awkward situation was a trait to admire. If there was any indication of this quality, it was in her inner dialogue, how she commented on everything that happened to her. Inner dialogue is always a perfect opportunity to build one’s character and personality, like how hilarious or serious they can be. Another character I found to be hilarious through dialogue and how we saw him through Heart’s eyes was Schroeder. Whenever he was mentioned, I felt a small joyful pang in my chest at his presence. It was obvious from the beginning his opinion of Heart, but how he handled the situations they were put in were heartwarming.
An adorable debut, Liz Czukas brings snark and romance, ridiculousness and parallel universes, and wraps them into a pretty package that will make readers everywhere laugh and cherish Heart’s bumbling yet memorable prom story.(less)
Perhaps a book slump is calling my name, because this one unfortunately fell flat for me. Between the protagonists’ ignorance and the obvious inconsistencies within the book, it was obvious I wouldn’t love this one, however I didn’t expect to not even slightly enjoy this one, either.
First of all, addressing the plot and build-up of this novel: nothing even remotely interesting happened in between 25% and 80%. That’s more than half of the book, surely something interesting should be happening here. But no, nothing did. It was ridiculous and I was bored out of my skull, skipping over paragraphs I deemed insignificant. However, but in between all of that, I also felt horribly confused. What Justina Ireland neglected to spend time on was the description of the mythology terms. The world-building was fine and fairly decent, but all these foreign mythology terms kept getting tossed around, and I had to randomly guess what they meant. In the first third of Promise of Shadows, I found at least ten different terms that were thrusted towards me, expecting me to understand them like it was no big deal:
”…their metallic blue-steeled sheen denoting his AEthereal blood and causing the other prisoners to subtly shift away form him There’s too much shine to them for him to be anything but Exalted, and even the dumbest vaster knows better than to cross paths with one of the favored sons and daughters of the universe."
"I was ten and practicing for my casting final. I couldn’t seem to get this mage light to dance the way it was supposed to."
"My mother was a Harpy of the Enigma line, the most skilled fighters our Aerie had."
"The fields are right there to your left. Today is the bacchanalia.”
I have a separate bone to pick with Zephyr’s character herself. She took the weak, defenseless girl to a new extreme, requiring other people to protect her from either herself or others. When she came into her powers, she abruptly jumped into a new role as someone equivalent to a goddess, though she still acted like the child she was in the beginning. If things didn’t go her way, she took on an insane persona, complaining and whining about her life. Yet, everybody still worshipped her because they believed she would bring them salvation. Furthermore, Zephyr and Tallon’s relationship had no buildup because they were surrounded by each other during their childhood. When they reunited, Tallon spent weeks at a time ignoring Zephyr, making out or sharing an intimate moment, and then repeating the infuriating process.
There were obvious inconsistencies in the book, and while this may be nitpicking, it was one of the first things I noticed wrong with this books. Justina would repeat the same words twice on one page, where one sentence Zephyr would say something “hysterically” and then a paragraph down feeling “hysterical” again. But there were other issues, which I chose to quote:
"I don’t have wings anymore, and he hasn’t seen my talons since my hands are covered in muck and fruit. There’s no way he knows that I’m the only Harpy in the Pit”
”I shoot him a dirty look, even though I know he really means old women, not me and my blue Harpy hair.”
Okay, so your hair is freaking blue, but apparently that’s not going to get you noticed as a Harpy? Especially since it’s made clear that Harpy hair is a trademark blue, so how could someone even remotely aware of his or her surroundings slip past the fact that Zephyr’s hair was blue blue BLUE.
“I’m not the world’s best fighter, but I’m an excellent runner.
"I’m starting to fall back, Cass and Blue leaving me far behind.”
I feel like if you’re going to say you’re an excellent runner, two people at once aren’t going to leave you behind and you’re going to be panting and burning in your lungs.
“Zephyr Mourning, I am your father.”
*deep breathing* *dramatically waves around a light saber*(less)
After loving Send Me a Sign, I had high hopes for Bright Before Sunrise. Tiffany Schmidt is a fantastic author, and I don’t question her talent for making me zoom through a book. She captured my attention and this book very easily could’ve been a five-star read. Her writing is good, addictive even, almost enough to mask what went wrong, but in hindsight the story very strongly lacked in development.
While this book is definitely cute and worth reading, I had a few issues with it. For one, Brighton seriously got on my nerves. For a book that takes place over the events of one day, it’s difficult for much character development to occur without the threat of a cheesy plot line. Tiffany prevented the cheesy plot by minimizing the character development, however with a character such as Brighton’s, this worked out to be a disadvantage. Brighton was sheltered, naïve, passive, and most importantly weak. She infuriated me with how pathetic she could come across. I understood that it was part of her upbringing, but her constant choice to be passive didn’t work. She said yes to everything, cowered under the possibility of something unexpected or foreign for a good three-fourths of the book.There was no solid development behind why she chose to constantly act that way, because this book happens so quickly. She redeemed herself by the end when she finally chose to do something unpredictable, and her passivity was very subtle.
As I said above, Tiffany is talented. Her writing makes you turn the pages obsessively, almost overlooking the obvious problems. For example, Jonah’s character fascinated me with his thinly veiled anger towards the town of Cross Pointe. I didn’t particularly enjoy how he constantly stereotyped Cross Pointe students. I’m from a particularly rich town, and one of my close friends is new to my school and district as of the beginning of this year. She’s from a town kind of similar to Hamilton, Jonah’s old town, where some of the people from that area aren’t also the richest. And a lot of her old friends think that we’re all stuck up snobs because we’re from a good town, like all of the Hamilton kids think of Cross Pointe. It didn’t particularly help that the Cross Pointe students were also portrayed as shallow characters who only cared about materialistic items. As someone who’s from a town similar to Cross Pointe, I hated how they justified Jonah’s unfair perception or “rich kids". For example, Brighton would be having a conversation with one of her fiends wheel all of a sudden someone would run over, screaming, “THIS IS IMPORTANT” and would immediately launch into a discussion about which senior picture she should use. Brighton then went on to defend her, saying that any other day, that’s what she would deem as important, too. While I understand that it may be prioritized to an extent, what your yearbook picture will look like is not that important enough to cut someone off mid-sentence to bitch on about your own problems about whether or not you need to get a retake.
Finally, there was the insta-love. I accepted it, and I even enjoyed it, actually, reminding me slightly of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Jonah and Brighton were cute together, I’ll admit it. At first, I was rooting for them and that they would improve as a pairing, Jonah looking past his constant stereotyping and Brighton going against her rude, impulsive nature. Tiffany’s writing style makes the insta-attraction seem anything but insta-attraction, until I noticed a small slip. Brighton could take one look at Jonah and recognize what he was feeling based on his facial expression, like “His mouth was slightly open and he sniffed. That meant he was annoyed at what was going on.” (not an actual quote, but a similar example) It takes more than a few hours to recognize someone’s facial expression like that, unless you’ve been stalking them like it’s your job. That was a little unrealistic, and I deemed it as a result of the insta-love. They went from hate to like-like too quickly. While it was only “like” and not full-out love, it rubbed me the wrong way how close they got so quickly.(less)
So I’m a little late to board the Jenny Han train, and seeing as this is my very first novel by her, I’m a little surprised by how little emotion I felt by this one. at first, I went in with an open mind, ready to experience Belly's relationship with the two brothers. I’ve always enjoyed rooting for the boy who’s darker and more mysterious than the other choice, and in this case it was Conrad, Belly’s childhood crush. He was aloof, which immediately appealed to me. However, throughout the book all he did was blow off Belly and act like a total jerk. There was no chemistry between Belly and Conrad, which was what I was expecting. But then he was supposedly supposed to have feelings for Belly, which he never showed. He continually chose to be a complete jerk to everybody around him, and it was hard to continue rooting for him. From the flashbacks that Jenny wrote about, Conrad was a decent character that sometimes could care about Belly, but there was no trace of him as an 18-year-old.
Another issue I had was with Belly. She was so childish all the time.She never stopped thinking about herself, and she whined about Jeremiah, Conrad, and Cam all at the same time. What’s the point of the time flashbacks if they don’t at least show her character progression? But instead, her 16/17-year-old self sounded exactly like her 11/14-year-old self. She didn’t grow up at all from who she was as a child. and her immaturity bothered me. She had three different guys gunning after her, and her personality made it hard to believe that so many people would like her at the same time, especially two brothers. Also, the way that Jenny wrote the book made it seem like Conrad and Jeremiah only started liking her because she grew up and became “pretty.” They never seemed to like her until they saw her this one summer and were all, “Oh my God you’re hot now!”
The Summer I Turned Pretty, not only lacks in characterization, but it also lacks in plot. I feel like the only substance was Belly whining about her life and stringing Cam along. All three of her romances popped out of nowhere, with absolutely no development, and it almost seemed like we were expected to follow along and blindly accept their romances. I felt that it was kind of forced at certain points, and I couldn’t relate to their emotions. There was no connection between me and any of the characters, which was the biggest flaw. With contemporaries, I’m pick about how believable the romance is as well as how well I can relate to each individual character, which unfortunately didn’t happen here.(less)
Love and Other Perishable Items is a book that demands attention and, more importantly, time to bask in its glory. With this book, I wasn’t captured by it to an extent that I fell in love, but this is a book that requires appreciation above all else. Laura Buzo’s writing style is simplistic, but requires a certain level of thought behind it. This book is split into two perspectives, one of Amelia’s narrative, and another excerpts from Chris’s notebook. Even though these two points of views are split into chunks, for example the first one hundred pages Amelia’s point of view, the next Chris’s random scribblings, these voices are distinct and telltale. You can feel the innocence and quiet admiration of Amelia, the desperation and recklessness of Chris. By the format of the words alone you can tell who’s speaking, but there’s a telltale difference in the two narratives.
Reading this book also gives you a feeling of inadequacy. Amelia and Chris are such smart and eloquent characters, discussing Gatsby on their lunch break, calling each other to lament over Great Expectations, recommending each other books at their leisure. They’re the kind of characters that made me want to strive for something greater in my own reading selection. They reminded me of hipsters in the modern world who have the best taste in music, can name the most obscure bands that produce the best music. Amelia, being only fifteen, had already immersed herself into this world of classics and fine literature. Chris, in his final year of uni, had this respect for Amelia for reading these books, and she often ranted to him about her distaste for certain characters and endings.
Something that I must point out is how simply gorgeous their discussions were. Feminism became a theme through a certain section, and they had a scintillating conversation about how it actually seemed to hinder the working class of women. Amelia reasoned how after women got rights and the ability work and vote, they were expected to work and support the house as well as take care of the kids and household. They gained freedoms but also gained a larger workload, something that made me put down the book and ponder what she meant by it. Her passion for feminism and the ideas she circulated in her head never failed to intrigue me and capture my appreciation.
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo is reminiscent of Eleanor and Park as well the writings of John Green. Told from the two perspectives of each character, this book is insightful and intelligent, exploring the ups and downs of love and literature. Being in Amelia and Chris’s minds was truly a pleasure. (less)
I didn’t expect to like this one. The beginning was slightly rocky, but the last half was fantastic and well-developed. Sawyer, widowed after her husband Grayson was murdered, returns to her hometown of Willowhaven, where she runs into her old boyfriend, Dean Preston. Dean, having left Sawyer unpredictably when they were eighteen, and Sawyer rekindle their old relationship, despite Sawyer’s hesitation to talk to Dean in order to spare her heart getting broken again. At first, it was a lot of the same back and forth action. Sawyer and Dean would bump into each other while doing errands, Dean would attempt to flirt with Sawyer, she would shut him down and run away, and repeat. For the first third or so, that’s all that they seemed to do, run into each other, act awkward, leave, and wallow in their feeeeeelings. As much as this portion was needed to establish the later story and build a relationship between the two, it felt particularly redundant and slow after a certain amount of encounters with each other.
Sawyer and Dean’s relationship, having already been developed before the book started, had the potential to either be well-developed aspect to the story that enhanced the overall book or a poorly-handled subject. With the flashbacks in the middle of a scene to inform us on both Sawyer and Dean’s romance in high school as well as Sawyer and Grayson’s relationship before Grayson died, I didn’t feel as if I was in the dark with the intricacies of their stories. We got memories on a need-to-know basis, giving us backstory whenever a character brought up their past or it would enhance the story to get a certain moment in time. In the beginning, flashbacks were doled out to form a strong foundation and expose Sawyer and Dean or Sawyer and Grayson’s relationship. As the plot progressed, the flashbacks were used as fine details when Sawyer and Dean began to grow closer again. I loved how Mindy handled the flashbacks and used them to her advantage. With them, you weren’t expected to just believe everything as it was thrown at you; there was a layer underneath it.
The cute thing about Me After You was how the chemistry between Sawyer and Dean. They had never stopped loving each other, and it was almost as if they were falling in love with each other again. They definitely had a natural chemistry and I loved their romance. It’s typical of a new adult romance, and there was nothing particularly steamy or special about their romance, but the circumstances under which they fell in love and the struggles of their romance compensated for it. Challenge after challenge was thrust onto them, and between all of it, they managed to find each other. Even though both of the characters had already grown up between high school and the beginning of the book, there was also more to be said about their development after they found each other. Sawyer came to terms with her grief over Grayson and learned to be happy again.
Me After You by Mindy Hayes is a perfect book to read when you’re in the mood for a carefree book that also contains a darker undertone. Right after finishing, you’ll feel warm inside, and if you read this book in the right mindset, you’ll love it.(less)
What is a great story is quickly overshadowed by the dialogue and the overall narration. The Agent's Daughter has an omniscient third point of view, which is both beneficial and malignant to the way the story is read. What I enjoyed about this narration choice was it offered Melina's life and her father's. With the way this book was set up, Melina had a normal teenager-esque life as if she was a character in a cute contemporary romance, while her father Evan went on spy missions. Eventually both lives collided with one another, which is where I found issues. There's a very specific difference between an omniscient point of view that switches perspectives whenever there's a scene change and one that switches perspectives at the author's leisure. I enjoyed the different scenes between the characters, but when we're in the same scene and one second we have Melina's thoughts on an issue and in another second her dad's, it's overwhelming. I was able to overlook it for the most part as it happened very infrequently.
Something I wasn't able to overlook, though, was the dialogue and the tell-not-show style of the writing. The Agent's Daughter is a dialogue-orientated book, relying on what each character says to provide a back story on an issue. The only problem with that, though, is the fact that it's fairly unrealistic. Without any use of contractions, lines like "That is not what I want you to do." or "I am shocked by your behavior" don't translate well when read. Teens never talk like that; if anything, they contract their contractions to monosyllable words in order to shorten the amount of time they have to talk. Furthermore, each character always said something that shouldn't be said in a normal conversation. They revealed too much about themselves, and Melina said things to her brother that shouldn’t have been needed to be said.
”Yeah,” Melina said with a small laugh. “You used to refer to yourself as a momma’s boy without realizing that those words had a negative connotation. We just always thought that you two had a unique bond because Mom quit work to stay at home when you were born, but I went to day care. I learned to have a little more independence than you.”
Travis continued. ”When Mom first had the accident, I found myself on my own. I lost my crutch. I was lost.”
“So what happened?” Melina asked. “How did you go from that to what happened today?"
That quote specifically bothered me because Melina shouldn’t have needed to tell Travis about what he went through as a child. Travis obviously knows about his bond with his mother, and how she stopped working to take care of him. There was no need for Melina to tell Travis that as opposed to maybe providing that background information out of the conversation.
Even though there were a few major flaws, I could recommend this to a younger young adult audience for its mild action scenes that would thrill an eleven- or twelve-year-old at the same time keep someone in their upper teens interested. The plot is smartly laid out that even with its overwhelming section it doesn't come off as saturated with clichés and similar plot points that turned me off. And as the storyline got progressively more intense as we continued on, the dialogue also saw improvements, due to the growing need for an over-explanatory way of speaking.
The beginning was questionable above all else, but by the end, I found myself enjoying the book with a renewed love from three years ago when I was a huge fan of spy books like this. (less)
I would’ve given Ten Tiny Breaths a bigger rating, because it actually was pretty enjoyable. I liked all the different aspects of it if it not were the predictability.
The concept of Kacey and Trent’s romance was pretty beautiful. It wasn’t just about their infatuation towards each other, but rather how they helped each other heal and change. Kacey, a tough, stoic character who shielded herself from everybody in the world, instantly intrigued me with her seemingly tragic backstory. While the devastation she went through in itself was inspiring in a morbid form, there was some sympathy to be desired. Understanding her grief and anger was one of the bigger challenges this book posed because there was no way to tell how much should be extended to her. Her relationship with her boyfriend, best friend, and parents were incoherent and relatively underdeveloped. It may be too demanding to request that KA added a whole section devoted to building Kacey’s relationship with her former life, but it hindered my enjoyment at the same time built Kacey’s character. I understood that Kacey chose to be selective and unwilling about what she divulged about her past, expanding on her hesitancy and anger towards the injustice she experienced as a victim of a drunk driving accident.
Aside from Kacey’s characterization and her relationship with Trent, not much else spoke out towards me in a positive light. How predictable was that plot twist? It’s a plot line that so many new adult authors have chosen to use to add intensity to their book. KA interpreted the period of time after the twist creatively to add to the initial disaster of choosing an overused new adult cliché, which somewhat compensated. However, the fact that it was easy to tell what was going on at least ten chapters before the actual event proved useless and eye-roll worthy. The new adult genre is saturated with plot twists that test the main character and love interest’s relationship, some more than others, given how many times this premise comes up, and how easy it was to guess what was going to happen.
One inexcusable detail that should be brought to everyone’s attention is the minor, yet present, slut-shaming in one scene. It’s not that big of a deal, but it was enough to lower my rating by a full star. Kacey began working at a bar that also served as a strip club, the whole shebang. Sometimes, the strippers that worked there would take customers into “private rooms” for extra money, which causes Kacey to look down upon these girls. She referred to them as “sluts” at one point, which drove me crazy. Even if she was just working there as a bartender, she was doing it because she needed cash. So it’s okay for her to work there but not for someone else if they don’t also serve drinks? One of her best friends did something similar to stripping on occasion but she didn’t bat an eyelash at all. It’s not okay to slut shame, first of all, and who knows if they’re not doing it because they have no other choice and have to make money to raise a child they have or their little sister, just like Kacey? This mentality remained as a constant theme every time she had a shift, even though it wasn’t as prominent and very subtle.
I would recumbent Ten Tiny Breaths to someone who is an adamant fan of new adult, and if you are able to overlook one obvious line. If it’s likely you won’t pick up on the slut-shaming and predictability because they are fairly subtle until officially acknowledged, then you will probably enjoy this one.(less)
Veronica Rossi has come a long way from when she first came out with Under the Never Sky. I've grown to love this series very dearly, and Into the Still Blue exemplifies all that this trilogy had to offer.
For those interested in dystopian story lines with a romantic subplot, the Under the Never Sky series is what I would recommend first. The relationship found between Aria and Perry has the ability to warm anybody's heart. These characters would go to the ends of the earth for each other. While those more interested in action than romance may be slightly disappointed with the route Into the Still Blue takes, those who are fans of love and tests to force and strengthen that relationship will find satisfaction in Veronica's story. With Aria and Perry, they aren't a couple because it's a common trend in young adult fiction, but because it ties into the significance of the story. They receive relief and happiness from each other, which ultimately pilots these characters forward into something more.
Aria and Perry's development has always been outstanding, but now it's even more so. Getting to read their story from two different points of view is already a privilege, but with characters that are worth reading, it’s priceless. I loved how Aria started off as a clueless Dweller from inside the Pod, and she transformed into this strong, independent woman who could fend for herself without having to rely on Perry. She always was a strong person, but the strength and confidence she exuded was absolutely beautiful. Perry seems to have also learned from Aria’s personality. Where Aria is soft and compassionate, Perry is quiet and stoic. He’s always given off a quiet, cold air, but when he was near Aria he seemed to be livelier than usual. Their effect on each other and how they assisted each other in their growth was something that redeemed the fact that the romance was overbearing at times.
An aspect of this trilogy that I have treasured from the very beginning is the platonic relationship between Aria and Roar. Their friendship is irreplaceable, and where Veronica could have taken their friendship into a love triangle, she enforced the bond between the two individuals. Personally, it’s all the better because I have a huge crush on Roar. He was by far my favorite character in this series. He has a wit unlike any other that gives the book a lighter tone and alleviates it from its usual seriousness. Even with supporting characters, Veronica knows how to build her characters. Roar had a puzzle of a personality that we got to piece together through the aspects of his character shown. All of Veronica Rossi's characters are well-developed, relatable, and animated, no matter their significance.
With an ending that was wholly satisfying, Into the Still Blue is a spectacular end to the Under the Never Sky trilogy that you must get your hands on as soon as possible.(less)
Fracture, the previous book, had been told from Delany’s point of view, only this time it was told from Decker’s. We viewed some of the emotions he went through in Fracture translate into Vengeance, as he battled post-traumatic stress from being unable to rescue Delaney until after eleven minutes. His trauma and helplessness was a recurring theme, even as he and Delaney were faced with bigger issues, such as a new force that was terrorizing them. Along with that, there were a few hurdles along their relationship. In Fracture, they were best friends that had been hinting at something more; by the end, they were openly in love with each other. Fast-forward and they’re chugging along until something threatens their balance and harmony. Their crumbling relationship was priceless, in the essence that it was the most realistic thing. Couples have rough patches, but given the abnormality of Delaney and Decker’s relationship, their quarrels weren’t unheard of or out there. Reconstructing their relationship also gave me a thrill, because not only did it provide a little tension to the plot line, but it also progressed the character development.
Decker represented the typical boy-next-door. He was the figure who had always been there for Delaney, no matter what she went through. His perspective, though, was completely twisted. He was a hypocrite who hid things from Delaney to protect her state of mind, but then he became infuriated if she did reciprocated those actions. Not only was I vexed by his thought process, he tended to portray himself as hostile and aggressive. His communication skills were incomprehensibly horrendous, especially in his ability to properly accuse someone of something. He jumped into situations without much thought, and even if he knew something wasn’t a good idea, he would go ahead and go for it anyway, regardless of what the results would yield.
The final flaw in Vengeance was its predictability. Given the small cast of newly introduced characters, it wasn’t difficult to piece together who was doing what. I was mostly surprised by how long it took Decker and Delaney to figure it out, since they were the ones who were witnessing it first-hand, and Delaney had already known what she was capable of and what certain signs meant. For example, she would feel a pull to any individual who about to die, and her hands would shake. Likewise, when she met someone who was about to die, she would know from the signs that she displayed, therefore if she met a beggar on the street and her hands started shaking, would she dismiss the motion as nothing? That’s not a direct example, but it was exactly like what happened. The signs were obvious, I just don’t know what took everyone so long to figure it out.
In the end, Vengeance satisfied me. It was good, and it had all the things to it that I was expecting to find. It had the plot and relationship between all of the characters, but there were also several flaws that hindered my overall enjoyment.(less)
Wow, I thought I would be a black sheep, yet again, when it came to Uninvited. But that didn’t happen because I loved it.
From the very beginning, I recognized Davy’s life to be charmed. She seemed to get everything she wanted, and she had her whole life ahead of her. She was slated to go to Juilliard as a musical prodigy as an individual who could sing and play multiple instruments. Davy and her boyfriend Zac were on excellent terms, until she received the positive test results for HTS, a disease that made you more prone to commit murder. Then everything began falling apart. She pretty much lost everything, and I have to admit I was more than just a little sad for her. She was losing everything, from her family’s love to her boyfriend to her best friend. The discrimination against her actually made me want to scream “F*CK ALL OF YOU” like I was Johanna Mason in Catching Fire. These people had known her for years, and one gene made them balk at her. But this mindset of society only furthered my enjoyment because it’s so accurate. Davy’s society was trained to think that all carriers of HTS (Homicidal Tendency Syndrome) were dangerous and murderers, and getting her to be a carrier that everyone feared pulled at my heartstrings.
At first, I was kind of annoyed with Davy. We’re introduced to someone who, at first glance, definitely does not have the capacity to kill someone. Davy knows that she is a good person; we know that she’s a good person. Yet whenever she sees other carriers, she immediately goes, “I have to stay away from them, they’re going to hurt me.” But if she knew that she had been unfairly marked as a carrier of HTS, didn’t that mean someone else could have, too? Davy was so narrow-minded, and I would’ve understood if it were a way to exhibit her character development, but the extent of her development was dropping the issue all together. Luckily, that only lasted for maybe a third of Uninvited, and the rest of the time I was on a wild roller coaster of feelings and HTS.
That aside, I found that the relationships between Davy and other carriers were irreplaceable. What I especially liked about them was that they were so different, but their discrimination as carriers brought them together. And how ingenious is something such as HTS? A notable element of Sophie’s take on HTS was that there were carriers that obviously didn’t deserve to be in their position and violent carriers. We got to get a taste of both of the sides, which was utilized to build up Davy’s likability. I loved Davy, to be honest. Although there was that part in the beginning that made me reluctant, she was such a strong character the rest of the time. She was loyal, compassionate, and completely relatable.
Definitely make sure to pick up Uninvited soon! It will make you feel all sorts of emotions, and you will most definitely fall in love with Davy and her society.(less)
I’m kind of underwhelmed, given how excited everybody was for this one. There were positive review after positive review, but I just wasn’t into it, thanks to my book slump that just won’t shake itself.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved how it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I’ve only read maybe one or two Beauty and the Beast retellings before this, but don’t worry: I was not disappointed with the way that Rosamund chose to took her story. Originally, Beauty and the Beast was about a girl who spent all of her time with a beast in a castle to save her dad. With Rosamund’s take on it, Nyx (our modern-day Belle) was forced to marry the “beast” at the hands of her dad, but along the way, she unexpectedly fell in love. It doesn’t sound like much, but it would take a book of my own to accurately depict the world she thought up. Words can’t even describe how enraptured I was with the setting and world. There was a mythology aspect included, too, which I adored. Out of all the books I’ve read over these past few months, Cruel Beauty takes the cake for most imaginative.
Besides the atmosphere, there was also the plot that factored into my enjoyment of Cruel Beauty. It was always giving me something that kept me on my toes. Thankfully the plot and setting were exceptionally intriguing, because that is where my positive feelings ended. The romance was definitely one of the aspects that I didn’t enjoy. I honestly didn’t believe the romance at all and I found it to be kind of insta-lovey. She fell in love with Shade way too quickly, and she absolutely despised Ignifex for most of the book, until one day she woke up and realized her undying love for him. There wasn’t enough build up for me, and I felt underwhelmed by the end.
Another issue I had was Nyx’s character. She was such a hypocrite and she bothered me so much. She went around betraying people left and right, making a promise to one person, “I’ll never betray you I promise I’ll do this for you,” then turning around and making another promise to another person. This wouldn’t be a problem were it not for the small fact that the two promises she made one after another contradicted each other. And instead of going with the promise that she felt was right in her heart, she went for the one that everyone expected her to carry out. In the end, it turned out to be the right decision, but she kept whining about how much her promise pained her. If you really don’t want to be held accountable for what you’re about to do, don’t agree to do it in the first place!
Cruel Beauty is definitely a must-read for fans of Beauty and the Beast and mythology. It incorporates a chilling atmosphere, a wonderful plot, and a less-than-stellar romance. Nonetheless, it’s still worth reading.(less)